Howard Stern May Not Be The Killer App For Sirius

A while back, I wrote that there would always be limits on what kinds of content consumers would be willing to pay for.
Now comes this AP report which suggests that many of Howard Stern’s fans aren’t willing to pony up the money to hear him on Sirius Satellite Radio:

A Jacobs Media poll of more than 25,000 listeners of 79 rock stations across the country indicates that 7 out of 10 former Stern listeners continue to listen to terrestrial morning radio shows.
A smaller sampling of five former Stern affiliate stations indicates that about 3 out of 10 listeners are now tuning into competing, established morning shows rather than Stern’s replacements.
“Some shows are in a better position to attract and retain Stern’s listeners than others,” said Fred Jacobs, president of the radio consulting firm that conducted the survey.

It could be that Stern’s act is getting a little stale. And even he’s a little pissed about the lack of listeners. But another monthly bill simply may not be worth it.
Are you listening to Howard these days?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. The Stern story brings up a lot of interesting strategic questions. First and most importantly is why they ever thought people would pay for something they had been getting free for years. There is no added value to the Stern show being on Sirius (other than he can say the F word). It made me try to think of other products and services that were free and then later had a price tag put on them. Boxing comes to mind. Do less people watch boxing since they started charging to watch it? The Ali/Frazier fights probably had huge TV ratings in the 70s. TV was free until cable came along but cable had so much to offer, people were willing to pay for it.
    The other thing the Stern story mde me think was, how do they come up with the figure of 12 million listeners? Is there a chance that might not be accurate, the prodcut of a radio station pushing the numbers up to sell advertising? Seems far fetched but you never know …
    Great blog by the way …

  2. I am a long time Stern fan, listener and proud Sirius subscriber. The added value of buying a subscription to Sirius is not so you can finally hear Stern use the F word. Stern himself limits the profanity he uses on the air. It is the fact that terrestrail morning radio is unlistenable. Shock jock copy cats of Howard Stern pathetically rip off his style, format and comedy bits because they lack the talent themselves to develop compelling, exciting radio. Terrestrial morning show ratings are in the toilet and the industry is running scared. Subscribing to Sirius for me, is not about paying for something I have been accustomed to getting for free, but rather paying for quality entertainment. For many years the only reason I paid for a full cable television package was to watch HBO and comedy central. I could give two shits what was on NBC on any given night. Stern may be concerned that more people haven’t followed him. But they will. In his own words, it takes more than a year to develop a radio show following, and although he has decades of experience and history with his own terrestrial fan base, I think it will take him longer than expected to build out his paying audience. They will come.

    I’m willing to bet on it.

  3. Sirius is rapidly catching up with XM since Stern signed. At 13 bucks a month per head (do the math, it’s a lot of cash). Plus they have a limited amount of advertising on Stern. Three out of ten Stern listeners following is more than I would have expected. Stern is pissed because of his great ego. As for terrestrial radio station, they will never have the numbers that Stern used to attract again. After months of trying to decide between XM and Sirius, I went with Sirius in January for Stern. I had never heard more than snippets of his show and was curious. It can be really funny. It’s best when Howard is just talking with his studio cohorts. His guests can be entertaining. What I don’t like are the sideshow rejects he has on and how he treats them. They may be ok with the joke (mostly because some get paid) but it gets old real fast. Sirius is losing me though. They are getting rid of some world music stations and adding useless crap like Playboy radio and Fox News. Sirius is obviously only interested in the most base males out there and little else. My Sirius unit will be going on eBay and I am planning to buy an XM radio.

  4. Satellite radio is the future. Right now reminds me of the late 70’s when cable was hitting the mainstream. We would have parties at friends houses that would culminate in waiting until friend’s parents would go to sleep so we could watch R rated movies on HBO. People will pay for superior content. The FCC completely stymies every creative instinct that writers have on TV and radio. Guests on talk shows can’t be themselves Satellite radio is free from censorship and phoniness. More and more advertisers will start moving to satellite and the price will go down. Once this happens people will abandon terrestial radio in droves.

  5. Howard Stern, American Idol And My 500 Year Plan (or not exactly worth a full blog post)

    Someone I know really needs to do a real investigation into how America Idol works. My gut tells me something isn't right. For example: Queen Guitarist Accuses American Idol Of Misrepresentation
    I was reading an old Fast Company mag…

  6. 2 million people have joined Sirius since the Stern announcement. Even if you don’t count advertising or receiver sales the company will net half a BILLION dollars after 5 years. And they never have to get another subscriber.
    If he’s not the killer app then I don’t know who is…

  7. The hype of Howard Stern’s “Revolution” is definitely fading. In the past 9 months of listening to him and other programs on Sirius it has gotten old so I cancelled it last month. Not only has Stern lost many of the great guests that he was know for getting great interviews but the talent in his staff is weak at best. I think I’ve heard every show at least 3 times due to rerun after rerun since he changed to a four day work week and the ample vacation time he takes. He’s been interviewing the same guests on more than one occasion and listening to him bully that handicapped guy for hours on end is not good entertainment. When he was on terrestrial radio the fact that he had the FCC watching him added to the mystic but then again he had CBS radio behind him which included a huge celebrity black book but now what celebrity would benefit from getting roasted unedited to a bunch on New Yorkers? The Stern show seems to cater to the East Coast which stereotypes New Yorkers as rude and uneducated.

  8. I am predicting that Sirius Radio will go bankrupt within 3 years and ancient Howard Stern will retire after his failure in satellite radio due to the high price of Sirius radio and the new and free HD radio that was just developed! Most people are willing to pay for cable TV but not for pay radio which we can not visibly see. People have too many bills monthly and radio is not a high priority to most people.